Vatican City, May 29, 2017 / 05:56 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ appointment of Fr. William “Bill” A. Wack to be the next bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida. A member of the Congregation of Holy Cross, a religious order of priests, Bishop-elect Wack succeeds Bishop Gregory L. Parkes, who was appointed Bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida by Pope Francis on Nov. 28, 2016 and installed on Jan. 4, 2017.
Fr. Thomas O’Hara, C.S.C., Provincial Superior of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross, said that they are delighted at the selection of Fr. Wack to serve as bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee. “Bishop-elect Wack is a gifted pastor and administrator who possesses an extremely welcoming personality. He is quick to reach out to all, is strong enough to lead and humble enough to listen. Above all, he is an outstanding priest who is passionate in his faith and absolutely dedicated to serving the People of God,” he said May 29.
He said Fr. Wack, who has served as pastor of St. Ignatius Martyr parish in Austin, Texas since 2009, “has been a blessing” to the people there and will “no doubt be a blessing to all in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee.” “As his brothers in Holy Cross, we are proud of him and are united with him in prayer as he assumes this important responsibility in our Church.”
Austin Bishop Joe S. Vásquez said in a statement May 29 that he received the good news of Pope Francis’ appointment “with joy” and offered his prayers for Bishop-elect Wack and the faithful of Pensacola-Tallahassee. “I know the faithful of Pensacola-Tallahassee are excited to receive their new shepherd. Father Wack is an exemplary priest who is well-respected by his brother priests and loved by those he serves,” he said.
“Father Wack has been of great help to me, and I express my deep appreciation to him for his years of service in the Diocese of Austin. As the people of Pensacola-Tallahassee come to know him, they will see his love for the Church and his desire to serve his flock with warmth and compassion.”
Bishop-elect Wack, 49, wrote on Twitter after the announcement that in his life he has never wanted to be anything but a Holy Cross priest, but “because God called (through Pope Francis) I can only say, ‘Here I Am.’” Pope Francis is a pope of many surprises. I just didn't think that I would be one of them!
Fr. Wack was born on June 28, 1967 in South Bend, Indiana. He studied government at Holy Cross College, eventually receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend in 1990. He also did ecclesiastical studies at Notre Dame and received a diploma in Executive Management from the school in 2002. Entering the seminary at Notre Dame in 1985, he professed his solemn vows in the Congregation of Holy Cross on August 28, 1993. He was ordained a priest in the congregation the following year on April 9, 1994.
Fr. Wack’s brother, Fr. Neil Wack, is also a Holy Cross priest. During his formation, Fr. Wack was involved in ministering at detention centers, a prison, homeless shelters, AIDS Services of Austin, and among the people of the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.
After his ordination, the bishop-elect served as parochial vicar of Sacred Heart Parish in Colorado Springs, Colo. for three years. From 1997-2002 he was Associate Director of Vocations for the Congregation of Holy Cross and he was a member of the administrative council of Holy Cross Associates from 1998-2002.
He was also a member of the Caritas of the Diocese of Phoenix from 2003-2008. Since 2009 he has been the pastor of St. Ignatius Martyr Parish in Austin, Texas. He served as a member of the Austin Diocesan Advisory School Board from 2010-2016 and was Vice President of the Presbyteral Council of the diocese and Dean of the Austin Central Deanery. Bishop-elect Wack speaks both English and Spanish.